Transactional vs Transformational Tutoring

If a student reaches out to a tutor, she will ask for a variation on one of these three themes:

“Help me to pass this A Level.”

“Help me to keep up with the class.”

“Help me to speak Spanish.”

The first option, help with passing an exam, would seem to be the most transactional form of tutoring. If you’re empoyed with a specific end-goal in sight, you will need to be very intentional about meeting that goal. You will research the exam specifications and methods to enable the student to meet the criteria. You lesson prep will be based around the test materials, and the required skills and knowledge.

If you’re taken on to help a student to keep up, you may be working together for years. This kind of tutoring reflects a student who true capabilities aren’t reflected by his work in the classroom. It may be a Special Education Need, but not necessarily. By pre-teaching him, or revising with him, you’ll help him to do better in school. What a gift.

The last scenario ‘help me understand Spanish’ is the most transformative. The goal is open, exciting and learning-centred. It’s an invitation to take a student on a journey and it’s permission to fly as a tutor.

All three types of tutoring are necessary. They all help. And really, even the most transactional tutoring relationships can be life-changing. Embrace the role of the tutor and make every session transformative.